Uniform Academic Calendar Facing Winter Test in Kashmir

“You can’t compare Kashmir with Jammu and have a uniform academic calendar. You’ve winter in Kashmir till April and sometimes it snows. This decision needs to be revoked.”

AMID the ongoing debate on the pros and cons of the Uniform Academic Calendar (UAC) in the valley, the government Wednesday said that the move will mainstream Kashmiri students with the mainland and help them progress in the right direction.

“Since the logic behind the move is very obvious, the government has made all the arrangements for the students this winter,” Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Advisor to LG Manoj Sinha on School Education and Higher Education, told Kashmir Observer.

“It’s a well thought-out move and I’m sure it will benefit the students in the long run.”

In October this year, the government announced that all classes up to 9th standard will follow UAC—with final exams and admissions now commencing from March-April next year. Such directions were already announced for Classes 10 and 12 this summer.

On 31 August 2022, the school education department had issued an order for the implementation of the UAC on the recommendations of a committee formed in April for both divisions “in sync with higher education departments and the rest of the country”.

So far, Kashmir and Jammu divisions were having separate academic sessions in tune with the different weather conditions as the exams in the valley would start in October-November, just before the beginning of harsh and bone-chilling winters after which the students would stay at home for vacations. The exams in Jammu are held in March, just before the hot and humid summers begin there.

“The government should’ve at least taken the stakeholders on board before taking such a decision for the valley staring at the long winter,” said Asrar Imtiyaz, an engineer and an anxious parent.

“A thorough discussion on the pros and cons of this step should’ve taken place, but unfortunately nobody was approached. The parents are very worried as the children are ready to give the exams but what will they do for the whole winter?”

Teachers in Kashmir would traditionally cover major portion of the syllabus in winters and the students would appear in the golden test in the month of June.

“But now, with the new session, the students won’t get that much time,” Mohammad Owais, a teacher, said. “This order needs an honest review because it remains to be seen how the government conducts exams in March when the snow is still accumulated in the border and other hilly areas of the valley. It will be a challenging situation.”

Even if the weather doesn’t permit administration to hold exams in hilly areas, Advisor Bhatnagar said, “we will be able to conduct examinations in 90 percent of the region.”

Kashmir Observer also reached out to Principal Secretary School Education, Alok Kumar, Director Education, Tasaduq Mir and Joint Director for their comments on the story. The calls went unanswered.

“You need to understand that Jammu and Kashmir divisions have separate weather patterns,” said Mohammad Bazil, a worried parent. “You can’t compare Kashmir with Jammu and have a uniform academic calendar. You’ve winter in Kashmir till April and sometimes it snows. This decision needs to be revoked.”

There’s another lurking concern, said Mubashir Mir, a teacher from Srinagar. “Students appearing in competitive exams won’t get enough time now for preparation because when their exams were conducted in October-November session, they would utilize winters for preparation,” Mir said.

“Now I think they will have to waste a full year to appear in competitive exams.”

However, many, including a former school headmaster, Akhtar Hussain, believe that there won’t be any difference.

“The exams that were conducted in October-November will be now held in March and that’s it,” he said.

“The students and the teachers might find it difficult initially but they will get used to it later on. And since this new calendar was recommended by an expert committee, they must have kept everything in mind before coming up with the proposal.”

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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